Friday, January 06, 2012

Descort part I

At the encouragement of Lewis Putnam Turco, for the fourth edition of his Book of Forms, I tried my hand at writing a descort -- a form characterized by its infidelity to any one form. Each stanza is written in a recognizable form, but a different one. Lew said that he had never actually seen one, so my entry didn't have much competition.

A little research into the form: there is actually a wiki entry on it, in which the invention of the descort is credited to Garin d'Apchier, whose exact dates are lost to history, but he did write the first descort, and I would share it with you, but it, too, is lost.
Gautier de Dargies, for whom we do have approximate dates (ca. 1170 – ca. 1240 -- he lived to be approximately 70, a ripe old age in those days), is said to have written three descorts.

Dargies has his own Facebook page, which I am the only person, as of this writing, to like.

Here's one by Raimbaut de Vaqueiras (1180-1207). It's  written in a variant of the form -- each stanza is in the same verse form, but in a different language. And it's quite beautiful. English translations are interspersed between the verses.
Eras quan vey verdeyar
Pratz e vergiers e boscatges,
Vuelh un descort comensar
D'amor, per qu'ieu vauc aratges;
Q'una dona.m sol amar,
Mas camjatz l'es sos coratges,
Per qu'ieu fauc dezacordar
Los motz sos lenguatges.
Now that is see becoming verdant
lawns and bowers and woods,
I want to begin a contrast
about love, on whose account I am distraught;
for a lady used to love me,
but her mind has changed
and therefore I sow enmity
among the words, the sounds and the languages.
Io son quel que ben non aio
Ni jamai non l'averò,
Ni per april ni per maio,
Si per ma donna non l'o;
Certo que en so lengaio
Sa gran beutà dir non sò,
çhu fresca qe flor de glaio,
Per qe no m'en partirò.

I am the one who have no good
nor ever shall I have it,
either in April or in May,
unless I have it through my lady.
True, in her own language
I cannot describe her great beauty,
fresher than gladiolus' flower,
the reason of my persistence.

Belle douce dame chiere,
A vos mi doin e m'otroi;
Je n'avrai mes joi' entiere
Si je n'ai vos e vos moi.
Mot estes male guerriere
Si je muer per bone foi;
Mes ja per nulle maniere
No.m partrai de vostre loi.

Fair, sweet dear lady,
to you I give and give up myself;
I shan't have my whole joy
unless I have you and you me.
You are a most treacherous enemy,
if I die through my good faith;
but still, there is no way
I shall part from your dominion.

Dauna, io mi rent a bos,
Coar sotz la mes bon' e bera
Q'anc fos, e gaillard' e pros,
Ab que no.m hossetz tan hera.
Mout abetz beras haisos
E color hresc' e noera.
Boste son, e agos
No.m destrengora hiera.
Lady, I surrender to you
as you're the best and truest
that ever was, and sprightly and valiant,
if only you weren't so cruel to me.
Most fair are your features
and fresh and lively your hue.
I am yours, and if I had you,
nothing would be lacking to me

Mas tan temo vostro preito,
Todo.n son escarmentado.
Por vos ei pen' e maltreito
E meo corpo lazerado:
La noit, can jatz en meu leito,
So mochas vetz resperado;
E car nonca m'aprofeito
Falid' ei en mon cuidado.

But so much I fear your anger
that I am in complete despair;
for you I have toil and torture
and my body is racked:
at night, when I lay in bed,
I am awoken many a time;
and since I gain no good for myself,
I have failed in my intent.

Belhs Cavaliers, tant es car
Lo vostr' onratz senhoratges
Que cada jorno m'esglaio.
Oi me lasso que farò
Si sele que j'ai plus chiere
Me tue, ne sai por quoi?
Ma dauna, he que dey bos
Ni peu cap santa Quitera,
Mon corasso m'avetz treito
E mot gen favlan furtado.
Fair Knight, so precious is
your honoured thrall
that every day I despair.
Alas, what shall I do
if she whom I call my dearest
kills me, I know not why?
My lady, by my faith in you
and by the head of Saint Quiteria,
you have taken away my heart,
and stolen it by most sweet talk.

English translation follows each stanza.  The original is in Provençal, Italian, French, Gascon and Galician respectively. In the envoi, the five languages are mixed together.

I did find one contemporary descort, in Drunken Boat. it's pretty good, and for some reason is unsigned.

Anyway, that's enough for one blog entry. I'll get to mine next time.

1 comment:

Anny Ballardini said...

Very interesting, thank you!